Health & Wellness Articles

4 Health Problems Linked to Depression

How Depression Can Hurt Your Physical Health

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As if chronic depression isn't difficult enough, research shows that people with long-term or untreated depression are more likely to experience additional health concerns than the general public. The reasons for this are easy to imagine:

Depression can cause isolation and sluggishness, making you less likely to exercise; it can decrease one's appetite, making you less likely to eat healthfully; and it can interfere with normal sleep patterns, which can cause a range of health issues in and of itself.

Newer evidence reveals that depression impacts the body, too. Physical effects of depression range from increased discomfort from chronic pain to a higher risk of dying from a heart attack. Being depressed can even make the discomfort of chronic pain or illness more difficult to deal with.

That’s why it’s so important to seek help if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression. Often, relief from depression will boost your physical well-being, too.
Even if you’re already dealing with depression, keep an eye on these related health issues that are linked to the condition. Some are exacerbated by depression. Others are the result of long-term depression. In some cases, it’s not clear whether depression causes the health concern or vice versa, but being aware of these associations can help you escape their effects.

4 Health Problems Linked to Depression

Chronic Pain
The link between chronic pain and depression is unclear, and there is some controversy about which comes first. What has been proven is that chronic pain can exacerbate depression and severe depression can make you more susceptible to pain.

Researchers have found a link between higher levels of cytokines, molecules that facilitate intercellular communication, and depression. Cytokines can trigger an inflammatory response and, therefore, pain. While additional research is needed to clarify the relationship between pain, inflammation and depression, exercise, talk therapy and medication can help.

Heart Disease
Depression is considered a risk factor for heart disease, an increased risk of having a heart attack, and higher chances of death after a serious cardiac event. Unfortunately, even milder forms of depression have been associated with ischemic heart disease, which is caused by diminished blood supply to the heart muscle.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly how this occurs, but one clue may be found in the inflammation caused by depression, which can lead to thickening and stiffening of arterial walls—a precursor to heart disease. The good news is that early diagnosis and treatment of depression, particularly in women, can prevent these negative effects.
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About The Author

Robin Donovan Robin Donovan
Robin Donovan is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer and magazine journalist with experience covering health, medicine, science, business, technology and design.

Member Comments

  • I was wondering if the author did the research on chronic illnesses that affect the brain. I have Multiple Sclerosis and I have seen the placKs* that take up home in my brain. I have many issues that contribute to depression and anxiety. I have issues with pain and reduced function of my body. It contributes to my depression and anxiety. These symptoms help me to struggle with exercise and calorie consumption. I also live on a low income life style that affects my ability to find an active lifestyle that works for me. These are some of the issues I struggle with day to day. Each day is a different day. I know that any of these activities even on a reduced function can be beneficial and for me that is where the depression and anxiety step in. I struggle to convince myself to do things that contribute to an active life. I have a art class and an environmental study that I participate in. I try to do things that make me happy. Thank you for your time to read this. - 6/2/2014 9:00:50 AM

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